Sugar, sleep, and Steve Nash

Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash credits two things to his excellent health and performance at age 36: avoiding refined sugar and getting enough sleep. See Nash’s sample daily diet here. (In case you’re clueless about pro basketball, Nash is a superstar and two-time NBA MVP who grew up in Victoria, BC. He was among the final five torch bearers at the Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony.)

Eschewing sugar and embracing sleep aren’t novel ideas. For years I’ve known that sleep debt is cumulative and irreversible except by extra shut-eye. (I even read the book that Nash cites, The Promise of Sleep by Stanford University professor William C Dement, in 1999, trying to understand a friend’s frustrating insomnia.) And refined sugar is obviously inessential to the human diet.

By odd coincidence, I listed both anti-sugar and pro-sleep resolutions in my first 2010 blog post. So I was particularly intrigued by Nash’s lifestyle. We all know what’s good for us. But it’s convincing to see their benefits in real life. Nash is not only an awesome basketball player, but he’s actually improving his stats with age. In this January 6, 2010, article, hear about how Nash and Suns teammate Grant Hill stay competitive as they approach 40.

So, am I sticking to the Nash plan? Truth be told, sugar has occasionally seduced me, but in controlled hits, no big deal. Sleep is my challenge. So much to do! So little time!

I need 7.5 hours of nightly sleep, and I often fall short of that minimum. Makes me wonder: if most of us can function adequately with a sleep debt, imagine what we could achieve fully awake and refreshed.

Nash recommends keeping a sleep journal. I already organize my life in Apple iCal, keep a handwritten yoga journal, write this yoga blog, etc. Who has time for more record-keeping?

But perhaps I will try a sleep journal. The written word has always been my best motivator. To be continued.

Image (Nash): inklake



    1. Excellent point. I almost included an exception for dark chocolate but then realized that it was unnecessary: Dark chocolate (85% is ideal but at least 75% in my book) has a reasonably low sugar content. No ban on dark chocolate. Eat up! (At this very moment, I have an 85% Green & Black’s bar and an 88% Endangered Species bar in my possession.)

      But here’s an actual exception: The Moravian cookies at C Adams Bakery in Milwaukee: Have you visited the public market yet? 🙂


  1. Ever since your earlier post resolving to shut it all down at 1030pm, I have been trying to follow suit.(Except tonight,Devendra B is in town).Refined sugar ,I fight the urge daily,but am winning the battle.Did steal a little chocolate off the Housekeeping trolley at the Sutton tonight though!
    Very inspiring post,now let’s see how the sleep journal works!


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