Science proves morning ablution the only solution
I’ve long suspected what the secret to happiness is, and now I’ve got proof. It comes courtesy of the Nerve Gut Research Laboratory at the University of Adelaide.
It’s not love or money or success.
It’s definitely not in a self-help book.
It’s a good sleep and a good poo. It’s that easy.
I don’t mean to be infantile or facile or Freudian – maybe just a little foecal. Bear with me.
Eight solid hours of warm, blissful slumber is wonderful. Nine is even better. Best of all is waking naturally, without a shrieking alarm, to stretch luxuriously and have a few moments spare to contemplate the coming day.
As for the poo – I know it’s not ladylike, and not normally to be discussed in public – but scientists have confirmed that a good poo is the best start to the day. They have been studying the way nerve endings in your nether regions spark off little messages to your brain.
A successful morning event kicks off feelings of wellbeing, but if you miss the “golden opportunity” just after you wake up and before the rest of the day barges in, it triggers negative feelings and can bring you down.
You realise the truth of the sleep-and-poo-equals-happiness equation when you spend the day with neither.
The problem is that so few of us can obtain both.
A good night’s sleep is teeth-clenchingly elusive. First of all you need an easy mind. No guilt about the previous day’s actions, no fear about the day ahead. No possibility of staring, gritty-eyed, at the ceiling replaying or forecasting conversations. No ceaseless flipping of the pillow to find the perfect spot, no deliberately avoiding the glow-in-the-dark digital clock so you don’t know just how horrid the hour is.
No hunger, no fear, no pain, no strafing of bullets…all these things help as well, of course.
There were plenty of great and famous insomniacs (Napoleon, Thatcher, probably Kim Jong-il but I’m making that up). They’re people who got by without many zzzzs, but they’re not exactly joy-to-the-world types.
I met the world’s top sleep expert last year – I can’t remember his name, because I hadn’t slept at all the night before and was trying to work out where the nearest public toilet was at the time – and he told me people love holidays because that’s the only time they get enough sleep.
He reckoned it was about 90 per cent of the whole joy of a vacation. Enough sleep. And that if we all had enough sleep all the time we’d be about as happy as we are sifting soft white sand between our bare tanned toes while slowly swirling a cocktail with a swizzlestick as a balmy sun gently sets.
And look at people who generally sleep pretty poorly. Corporate psychopaths who spent their lives driving a bigger wedge between rich and poor. Ruthless politicians pushing for harder, tougher laws.
Now to poo. I won’t go on for too long, but I think it’s important.
To have a good poo you need a good diet. That seems to elude fat rich Westerners. And then there’s some of us who eat too much chilli and probably drink too much, and we only have ourselves to blame.
But the joy of a good bowel movement in the morning cannot be underestimated. It can set you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. You are lighter, happier.
I bet plenty of bad and mean decisions have been made by the Powers-That-Be while they are tired and constipated. Maybe there’s a wishful symbolism to dropping bombs. (Sorry, too far?). Chaiman Mao was famously blocked up and forced his minions to, ummm, help, and he certainly leaves a mixed legacy.
At the University of Adelaide’s Hanson Institute is a man who knows all about a good poo. Associate Professor Ashley Blackshaw is the head of the Nerve Gut Research Laboratory.
He says your gut works all night while you sleep, “shoving things downward”. Then when you wake up there’s a flurry of colonic activity, as nerve endings fire up.
“When you get rid of that signal you feel much better (but with) that quick burst, if you don’t take advantage, you’ve missed a golden opportunity,” he says.
“The nerves can keep firing off all day and bring you down… it affects your feeling of wellbeing.”
So there you go.
Now all we need to do is get rid of all the things that keep us up at night or block us up in the morning, and the world will be a better place. It’s that easy.
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