Jason Hartman’s guest on episode #46 of The Longevity & Biohacking Show, James Swanwick, has a revolutionary idea; stop drinking for a while and feel like a whole new person. According to Swanwick, we’ve been deeply conditioned by alcohol marketers to think that we can’t have fun without tipping back a few. In response to his own vibrant re-awakening after going a month without social drinking he started the 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge.
But First Let’s Block Some Blue Rays
Before Jason and James got down and dirty discussing the shocking idea of not imbibing, they discussed the flawed sleep epidemic created by all the damn electronic screens we stare at all day. Believe it or not, the blue light emitted from our computers and cell phones have a terrible effect on natural sleep patterns. Ever wonder why it seems you can’t get a good night’s sleep? It might be blue rays screwing with your circadian rhythms!
Defining Blue Light
Blue light is a high-energy, high-frequency visible light in the violet/blue band from 400 to 500 nm in the visible spectrum. It has been shown to create an eye strain so severe that you may not be able to slip into REM sleep in its presence, and could eventually suffer from a condition similar to age-related macular degeneration. It’s that serious!
The issue of blue light immersion is definitely a product of our high tech society. You would be hard-pressed to find a television, computer, or cell phone screen that wasn’t blasting blue rays at you. It wouldn’t be such a problem if we didn’t drag all our electronic detritus into the bedroom with us at the end of the day, guaranteeing a poor night’s sleep. Proper sleep is one of the Big Three imperatives (good diet and frequent exercise are the other two) for excellent health.
The Science of Circadian Rhythms
To understand how blue rays and other types of artificial light create such havoc in our life, we need to understand circadian rhythms. Buried deep in our genetic makeup is a mandate that our body loosely follow a 24-hour cycle of responding to day and night. Your body senses when it’s time to go to sleep and time to wake up. Back in the days before electronics it was much more common for people to go to bed when the sun went down and get up when it rose. Obviously, our modern society has all but made a mockery of this ideal and, though you can certainly live your life in defiance of the circadian cycle, never doubt that it is still there, hiding unseen in your genetic structure.
The Short Version
To put it more succinctly, artificial light confuses your internal clock, making it hard to go to sleep because it still thinks it’s daylight. The result is poor sleep, which can lead to irritability, poor job performance, relationship damage, poor diet, and too much alcohol! Sound familiar? It probably does to a large percentage of readers! Here’s the bottom line. It’s been shown that it takes 90 minutes of deep restful sleep for your body to start producing melatonin, a natural substance critical to achieve the rejuvenative effect of sleep. If you have an electronic device near the bed, those blue rays are bouncing all over the place, stimulating your brain into thinking it wants to stay awake and keeping you from true rest.
Enter the Swannie
It just so happens that Swanwick has invented blue-blocking glasses designed to be worn 90 minutes before bedtime. These glasses are marketed under the name Swannies. They start blocking blue rays and other artificial light before you even fall into bed. This allows you to slip into REM mode faster. Jason uses them and agrees his sleep is better and longer. If you’re interested in trying a pair of these yourself, check out the contact information at the end of this article.
Think Social Drinking Doesn’t Affect Your Health? Wrong!
Did you know that every time you imbibe an alcoholic beverage you are slowly poisoning yourself? It takes 7-10 days for alcoholic toxins to leave your body. That means the stuff is inside creating havoc for at least a week after you drink. And that holds true for every single drink from a two-fisted margarita to a single whiskey shot.
We’re not here to wag a scolding finger and prosthelytize against social drinking, but don’t make the mistake that it comes with no health cost. Expect slow weight gain over time and hangovers that likely increase in affect as you age. These are the symptoms James Swanwick noticed as he headed into his thirties, after a decade of social drinking.
Bring On the 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge
Swanwick recounts a morning, following a night of heavy “socializing,” where he woke up with a miserable hangover and stumbled over to a nearby IHOP, where he found himself wedged amongst a crowd of overweight diners. The self loathing he experienced provided the impetus to stop drinking for 30 days and THEN to replicate and market a program intended to help others do the same.
For his own experience, Swanwick says he lost 13 lbs of fat, became immensely more productive, felt better in every way, and perhaps most importantly, became a nicer person. Sound like something you want to try?
The Challenge provides a short, motivational video tip each day, recorded by Swanwick. He also provides simple techniques for success, including how to be the life of the party with nothing but a glass of ice water and lime in hand. The real secret? Learn to listen, really listen, to other people. And get it through your head early in the process that people don’t care as much about whether you’re drinking as you think they do. Also included is access to a private Facebook community for real time support.
Keep in mind the 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge is not intended for addicts and alcoholics and is not a substitute for professional medical help. For more information visit www.30daynoalcoholchallenge.com . If you’re interested in a pair of blue-blocking Swannies, check out www.swanwicksleep.com . (Image: Flickr | andrew_mc_d)
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The Longevity Show Team