Sleep, better alone or together?


While I was away at a conference this past weekend, I thought I’d try out the android sleep tracker. I confess I’ve been curious for awhile about how much deep sleep I got. With a king size bed all to myself, I slept like a rock star. Eight hours, eleven minutes. 75% of that in deep sleep. Woo hoo.

(By the way, I’m doing well on this week’s resolution. So far, no snoozing. It works well having the alarm go off in a light sleep period, I think, though it’s hard to get used to the random awakening times. Ah, 5:22. You again.)

On a regular weeknight, my sleep is not so luxurious. Usually I get seven hours and change. And I get less deep sleep.

I share my bed with my partner, when he’s not in Toronto, and with our cuddly labradoodle (that’s a guess, she’s a rescue puppy) Olivia. Sometimes, also, the cat.

Behind us are the days of multiple babies and toddlers in the bed. It was a futon then, king size, with lots of room for extras.

Sharing a bed isn’t just about sleep quality though. There’s also sex, conversation, cuddling, and companionship to consider.

Strictly from the sleep quality point of view, it turns too there’s no clear consensus on whether alone or together is better. I’d heard three of these arguments before, better alone, better together and in opposite sex couples, worse for women, better for men. The new one was worse for men, better for women.

Better for everyone
Sleeping together improves health

Couples sleeping on the same bed may live longer and be in better health that people who sleep by themselves, experts say.

In fact, some researchers believe that sleeping with a partner may be a major reason why people in intimate relationships tend to be in better health.

Worse for everyone
Why It Might Be Healthier to Sleep Alone
From the marriage sucks file: The couple that snoozes together, loses together. scientists say sleeping together ruins your health.

The study reports that if you’re shacked up and sharing a bed, you experience 50% more sleep troubles than singletons. Sleeping together is downright unhealthy. So weird – I’m not married for this exact reason! Strategic brilliance from Ost, yet again.

Better for women, worse for men:

Bed sharing ‘drains men’s brains’

Sharing a bed with someone could temporarily reduce your brain power – at least if you are a man – Austrian scientists suggest.
When men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed, whether they make love or not, and this impairs their mental ability the next day.

The lack of sleep also increases a man’s stress hormone levels.

According to the New Scientist study, women who share a bed fare better because they sleep more deeply.

Better for men, worse for women

Taylor’s trouble getting a good night’s rest next to her husband isn’t unusual.Women sleep less soundly when they share a bed with a romantic partner, a study published this month in Sleep and Biological Rhythms found. Surprisingly, men actually sleep better when they sleep next to a woman.

There are a lot more couples sleeping separately than you might guess, says Mark Mahowald, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis and a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. An estimated 23 percent of American couples sleep apart, according to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation. A Canadian study reported that 34 percent of couples hit the sack separately.




Bike question from a reader

A blog reader asks,

Another bike question for y’all: What kind of bike (frame type, tire/tyre type, etc.) would you recommend for a commuting bike? I have a bike that I bought years ago for this purpose, but the dimensions are more towards an upright cruiser. What I gain in relief on my lower back I lose in stroke power and strain on my knees, so I’m looking for something else, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t think a long-distance road bike is what I want just yet, but I would like to be able to ride this comfortably for ~10 miles or so at a time.



Snoozing the snooze button, that’s my resolution for this week


As regular readers of this blog likely know, sleep is my super power. But despite my motto, start as you mean to continue, this term got off to a tough start.

I have no trouble at all getting to sleep and I can still nap anywhere at anytime. But getting up this semester is proving to be a challenge

I’m teaching until 9 p.m.on Mondays and that sets the whole week up wrong.  I’m up later than usual Friday night and Saturday night and now Monday nights too. Sometimes I even add Sunday to the list and do some late evening grocery shopping. Staying up too late and struggling to get up in the morning has been my Autumn bad habit.

I’ve been relying on the snooze button more than I like. My alarm goes off at 5 or 6 and instead of leaping out of bed, I snooze until twenty past and sometimes until 7. That’s when I absolutely have to get up to wake teens and get us all out the door by 815.

I know the snooze sleep isn’t good sleep. But somehow, I keep snoozing.

This week, no snoozing. I may need to pick a later time for the first alarm but this week it’ll be the first, last, and only alarm. My partner’s alarm only goes off when you solve a math problem. It’s set to the most difficult level. I know this because it sometimes goes off while he’s showering and my math skills, without glasses are limited.

I’m looking over my options. How to you wake up in the morning? Alarm or no alarm? easy off or challenging off? Snooze or no snooze?


Here’s the case against snoozing.

Snoozers are losers

It may seem like you’re giving yourself a few extra minutes to collect your thoughts. But what you’re actually doing is making the wake-up process more difficult and drawn out. If you manage to drift off again, you are likely plunging your brain back into the beginning of the sleep cycle, which is the worst point to be woken up—and the harder we feel it is for us to wake up, the worse we think we’ve slept. (

Why the snooze button is ruining your sleep

Weird but true: Relying on the alarm clock’s snooze button can actually make us more tired. Especially after a night of too little sleep, hitting snooze won’t make getting up any easier. Those five extra minutes in the morning are less restful than five minutes of REM sleep because they take place at the end of the cycle when sleep is lighter. And, although sleep is usually the time when the brain forms new memories, that process doesn’t happen while we’re sleeping in between alarms. Skipping that high-quality sleep can have serious consequences: A recent study found high school students with poor sleep habits (including using an alarm to wake up) didn’t do so well in school [2].

The secret to an easier wakeup is simple—get more sleep! Set the alarm for the time you actually get out of bed (i.e. the last snooze) and avoid the snooze button altogether. If keeping those paws off the alarm clock is just too difficult, try placing the alarm clock across the room. It’s much easier to resist the siren song of the snooze button if it’s not right next to the bed! Die-hard snoozers should try to minimize the damage by setting the alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual and snoozing just once or twice. Ten minutes of disrupted sleep ain’t perfect, but it’s better than 30 or 60!

Hitting the snooze button is damaging your health

According to data collated from 136,000 people between 2003 to 2012, people felt best when they awoke naturally, but snoozing was alse seen as a pleasurable experience. “It feels like a blissful dream state because the closer you get to wakening, the more rapid-eye movement and dreams occur,” Dinges explained. However snoozing does not add to people’s total sleep quota, it simply prolongs the act of waking up, he said

Why the snooze button is evil

The reason I dislike the snooze button is that it represents a pernicious self-deception about how you plan to spend your mornings. There is nothing wrong with sleeping. Sleep is wonderful. If you’d like to spend your mornings sleeping, why not set the alarm for the time you actually intend to get out of bed? Your body would probably prefer 27 minutes of uninterrupted sleep to three 9-minute segments of snooze-button time.

Instead, the snooze button is a weapon in the battle between the selves we’d like to be and the selves we actually are. Research into the science of willpower finds that we wake up with a robust supply of self-discipline that is then depleted by decision-making during the day (see my related post, Can You Learn Willpower?). The snooze button turns the simple act of getting out of bed into a willpower-sapping episode of trench warfare. I’ll give you 9 minutes if you promise not to take so long in the shower. I’ll give you 9 more minutes if you don’t eat breakfast. Eventually, your ability to invest that willpower in meaningful tasks later on is shot.


Reblogged: Sleep is a feminist issue

Sam B:

I’m going to be blogging about sleep this week. Here’s an older post about the significance of sleep.
Cheers, Sam

Originally posted on Fit Is a Feminist Issue:


According to Kate Harding in Salon, sleep is the next big feminist issue.

From the reading I’ve done about women and sleep, I can see why. If you’re a woman you need more sleep than a man of the same age and chances are you’re getting less (that’s even more true if you share a bed with one of them) and chances are, you’re not happy about it.

Harding writes, “Americans are increasingly sleep-deprived, and the sleepiest people are, you guessed it, women. Single working women and working moms with young kids are especially drowsy: They tend to clock in an hour and a half shy of the roughly 7.5-hour minimum the human body needs to function happily and healthfully.” The negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation are well-documented, but that doesn’t inspire enough people to prioritize rest, and women often end up in a vicious cycle of sacrificing sleep…

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Disappointing news (Guest Post)

It wasn’t all that long ago I was celebrating being off blood pressure meds and musing poetic about losing 20lbs. On Oct 15, just 5 days after my fortieth birthday I had a follow-up with my doctor for my blood pressure. It read 145/97. That is not what I was expecting.

I had arrived early, drank little coffee and had been relaxing in the waiting room, confident I would be in the 120/80  zone. I had met my first weight loss goal of 10% of my mass, which for me is 27 lbs. I had picked that because of what I read on the Heart & Stroke Foundation website and that amount of weight loss was correlated to reduced blood pressure.

Friends had cautioned me (I’m looking at you Cato, you very well informed and smart woman) that weight loss may not lead to lower blood pressure and I’m glad I opted not to have bariatric surgery. I would have been in the position of having had surgery and still be on blood pressure meds, pretty much intervention hell for me.

So I was pretty bummed out, actually I was really pissed off. (ya, ya “Type A” blah blah blah). When leaving the treatment room, with my new prescription in hand, I ducked into the washroom and had a pretty good cry. I pulled myself together enough to book my follow-up appointment, got to the car and cried the whole way to work. I looked like a red puffer fish. Thankfully I have an office and could quietly be a wreck as I went about my work.

I had started some intensive therapy in April because, like a great post on here by Moira said, I shouldn’t confuse the therapeutic benefits of exercise, blogging and my support network with actual therapy. I knew I needed to make substantive changes for my health including attitudes to food.

So it is disappointing, but not devastating, that I will be on meds for the rest of my life. I will also eat food, mostly plants, not too much. I will keep moving my body and accessing the services I need to be well, like my doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist and psychologist. I’m ridiculously resourced. I better leverage that for the best outcomes because it turns out I’m worth the effort after all. :)


Heading out for My First Half Marathon

slides14_youtubeYes, you read that right. I’m finally doing that half marathon I said was my main “fittest by 50″ goal way back, before I discovered triathlon. See my post about goals here.

My commitment to that changed after my first triathlon. But when I started doing longer runs on Sunday mornings with my friend, Anita, before I left for Burning Man, she asked if I’d be interested in the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon in Toronto (that’s the same one Stephanie wrote about the other day, but she’s a true amazon–doing the full marathon). I had two months to train for it, and it would be one month after my Lakeside Olympic distance triathlon.

Why not?  I registered (which, as I’ve said before, is enough to get me to follow through).

My training for this race has been haphazard, at best. I kept up something of a running routine on our summer vacation, with runs along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and in hilly Sedona, Arizona. But once we got to the Nevada desert, the environment was just too harsh.  That took out a week of training, though Burning Man challenged me physically in other ways.

For the past few weeks, I’ve managed a couple of runs during the week and longer runs on Sundays.  Twice I embarked on 18K all by myself.  The first time, Anita couldn’t make it but I knew I had to show up for the distance or risk not being ready for tomorrow’s half.

That’s when my whole view of long distances changed. Instead of facing the run with fear and dread, I looked at it as a morning outing. I gathered up my water and my snacks, put on some sunscreen and my red running cap, grabbed my sunglasses and set the Garmin to 10-1 intervals so I could run-walk my way.

I pre-planned a route in advance so there’s be no guesswork.  We’ve been blessed with outstanding fall weather this year.  I brought my iPhone so I could listen to music or a book. And off I went.

The first 15K or so I felt fresh and strong.  Towards the end, my legs dragged and I shuffled along, hardly able to pick up my feet. I had to add some extended walk breaks — two minutes instead of one — and a bit more frequently.

I coaxed myself along with promises like “make it as far as that road sign and you can take a walk break” and “you’re almost at the top of the hill” and my go-to comment when I’m depleted and all creativity has left me: “you can do this!”  And I did do it.

The next week was better. I added on 0.5K just because. I didn’t have to take more frequent breaks and there was no need to lengthen them. Yes, my legs ached and my feet got tired. But I wasn’t shuffling at all.

Two weeks ago I did my last long run with Anita and a friend.  20K on a perfect autumn morning. I’d enjoyed running alone but with the two of them, it really did feel like a leisurely outing. I wrote about it in my post about doing the impossible: here. I realize that leisurely is probably not the adjective I’ll be looking for tomorrow when I’m at the race.

Anita and I are driving to Toronto with my longtime friend and colleague (who happens to be her spouse), Rob, later this morning.  We’ll check into our hotel, go to the Race Expo, pick up our kits, and soak in the prospect of doing a race that has 10,000 people in it!  This afernoon my god-daughter is picking me up for a family party in my honor (for my 50th–let the celebrations continue!).

I’m planning an early night, a restful sleep, and a quiet morning leading up to the race.  Start time: 8:45 a.m. It’ll be chilly, but hey, we’re Canadian. And the sun will be shining.  Report to follow.

So far, being 50 is working for me!



Fit is a feminist issue, link round up #6

We usually share links on our Facebook page but ones involving nudity we’re sharing here instead. Read why here. The short version is we’re trying to avoid getting booted off Facebook for failing to meet community standards.

  • Mom’s guide to feeling better naked

    It took me some time to realize that conventional, magazine-cover attractiveness is sort of beside the point. And here’s where some more of those “yeah I know it’s logically true but I just can’t really believe it” platitudes start to make a lot of sense: Confidence is sexy. Feeling sexy is sexy. Having sex is sexy.In other words, sexy is something you do and someone you are, much more than it is the way you look.

    Keep on reminding yourself of that. Try to believe it.


  • Photoshop versus Pin Up Art
    “In most of the cases the artist made the image more slender and prettier than the actual model. So, nothing has changed…Waists get thinner, legs get leaner, boobs get bigger.”“Except that in these pictures, it’s … obvious it’s an illustration and that the woman pictured could look different, or could simply have been imagined by the artist. Photoshop presents an image of a real person, and the intention is to make you think they actually look like what you see. IMO, one is intentionally misleading, and the other is not.”
  • pinup

  • How boxing became the next big thing in fashion

    From Karl Lagerfeld to Alexander Wang, fashion’s stars are turning to the pugilistic arts for inspiration. So now you can look the part, even if you still can’t throw a decent right hook.