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I have a confession to make: I don’t make my bed. I never saw the point in it; I’m just going to mess up the covers again that night. I don’t spend much time in my bedroom, and my guests don’t spend any, so it’s not as if anyone has to keep looking at my bed’s “disheveled” appearance during the day. 

I realize that not making your bed has a bit of slovenly shame associated with it. Making your bed seems more organized, more cleanly. In fact, when it comes to daily habits, it even has some cool cache. It’s the kind of foundational habit a four-star naval admiral could base a commencement address, and book, around, and even claim could very well help you change the world. It’s the kind of habit that makes you feel like a stoic soldier — an outward behavior that supposedly reflects the tidiness of an equally disciplined mind. 

Given this cool, cleanly cache, I felt surprised (and a little vindicated) when I came across the following passage while recently reading A Bachelor’s Cupboard — a manual for young men on how to live independently published in 1906:

A woman who, as the mother of several sons, has many young men as guests at her large country house, says she can invariably judge a man from the care he takes of his room. A young man who has been well brought up, she says, never fails to turn back his bedclothes [sheets and blankets] upon arising in the morning. If the clothes, sheets and all, are turned back smoothly over the footboard and the pillows placed near the open window in a convenient chair, she decides that the young man’s mother instilled into him that good breeding which makes neatness and cleanliness and care imperative to his comfort and that of his hostess. She further adds a few remarks on the ‘fine husband that man is going to make’ who remembers the little things, but they would be out of place in a bachelor book.

So, the standard for neatness and cleanliness a century back was the opposite of what it is today: rather than pulling his sheets and covers back over his bed up to the headboard, a well-bred gentleman was supposed to drape his bedding over the footboard, leaving both the blankets and the sheet-covered mattress entirely open to the air. Such an airing out was thought to promote freshness and good health (hence why you would also place your pillows by an open window).

One could chalk up this practice to outdated notions of hygiene. But it triggered a memory in me; I thought I remembered that there was modern research done some years ago that backed up this old idea.

I fired off a google search, and indeed, I had remembered correctly.

In 2005, a study was published which found that not making your bed may be better for you than making it.

More than a million dust mites live in your bed. These microscopic critters feed on the flakes of skin you slough off in your sheets, and thrive in warm, moist environments. 

When you make your bed in the morning and cover your pillow and mattress with the thick layers of your sweat-infused bedding, you better enable these cozy conditions. 

By leaving your bed open to the air and sunlight, you can create a drier, less hospitable environment for the mites. As the lead researcher on the aforementioned study, Dr. Stephen Pretlove, explained to the BBC

Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die.

Sleeping with dead, dehydrated dust mites may not seem significantly more appealing than lying with moist, live ones, but it’s their fecal matter (yes, dust mites are pooping in your bed) that trigger allergies and asthma. In a week’s time, a single mite can excrete hundreds of allergy-creating fecal particles. Dry up the mites, and you dry up this supply of aggravating allergens, potentially allowing you to breathe better at night. 

Of course, to get the full, freshening effect of this, you should drape your bedding over the footboard of your bed, as The Bachelor’s Cupboard instructs, rather than leaving your sheets in a half-on/half-off rumple. Which does take a bit more effort, though not quite as much as making your bed. It’s unclear if this habit will help you change the world, but it will perhaps make it slightly less gross. 

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Sunday Firesides. Sometimes the Critic Counts

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“It is not the critic who counts.”

If this line from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech is taken to mean that the individual who takes action has far greater worth than he who merely casts stones from the sidelines, then it can be adopted as an unassailable truth.

If, however, it’s taken to mean you should never listen to your critics, then it’s a mantra that cannot be universally applied.

T.R., after all, was a critic himself, and when he called individuals “fragrant man swine,” “little emasculated masses of inanity,” and “beings who belong to the cult of non-virility” — you can bet he wanted to be listened to (and probably should have been).

While adopting a blanket “f**k the haters” mindset may anesthetize the pain of receiving negative feedback, it comes at the cost of two key things:

First, you surrender a potentially helpful perspective.

We’d all do well to heed our inner voice and scorecard over that of the crowd. But we can lose track of that voice or allow ego to convince us we’re doing a better job than we are, and it can take an external observer to point that out.

Second, you forfeit — at least if you apply the “never listen to critics” standard with integrity/consistency — the right to be heard yourself.

Because if people shouldn’t listen to anyone else’s opinions, they shouldn’t listen to yours, either.

Little credit belongs to the masses of heckling, grandstand-riding spectators, who nine times out of ten, have nothing valuable to say. But to avoid developing what Teddy called “a mind that functions at six guinea-pig power,” it’s wise to recognize that sometimes the critic can count: when he’s someone you respect; when he’s someone who also has skin in the game; when he’s someone who’s got, well, a point.

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How to Diagnose and Treat Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion

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It’s been freaking hot around the world this summer. Here in Oklahoma we’ve had more than a dozen days in July alone with temperatures over 100 degrees. 

The chances of suffering a heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke go up during extreme heat. According to the CDC, between 2004 and 2018, an average of 702 people died annually from heat-related causes, and thousands more ended up in the hospital. Small children and adults over 65 are most susceptible to heat-related illness. However, it can hit anyone who works or exercises vigorously in the heat. In fact, heat stroke is one of the three most common killers of soldiers and athletes in training. 

Below we share how to recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do to treat both conditions. 

How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion 

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

Heat exhaustion occurs when your body can no longer cool itself down through sweating due to a loss of water and electrolytes. Heat exhaustion needs to be treated as soon as you recognize it in yourself or others. Left untreated, it can develop into its more severe sibling: heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: 

Heavy sweatingCold, pale, and clammy skinFast, weak pulseNausea or vomitingMuscle crampsTiredness or weaknessDizzinessHeadacheBrief fainting (passing out)

How to Treat Heat Exhaustion

The goal of treating heat exhaustion is to cool the sufferer down and restore their fluids.

Move to a cool room. If you don’t have access to an air-conditioned room, at least move to a shady spot.Take a cold shower or bath. If that’s not possible, drape (do not tightly wrap — this will trap heat) cool, wet towels/cloths on the body. Turn a fan on these towels if you can. Remove extra clothing.Sip cool fluids, like water and Gatorade.

If heat exhaustion symptoms continue for an hour despite your treatment, seek professional medical assistance.

How to Recognize & Treat Heat Exhaustion 

Heat Stroke Symptoms

Heat stroke is the most serious of heat-related illnesses. With heat stroke, the body has lost its ability to cool itself down, resulting in a dangerously high internal body temperature (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). High internal body temperature is potentially life-threatening as it can cause seizures, organ failure, and rhabdomyolysis. Even if you recover from heat stroke, you can still suffer long-term damage to your heart, brain (creating cognitive deficiencies), kidneys (requiring lifelong dialysis or a transplant), and liver (also requiring a transplant). Heat stroke victims often die months after they’ve “recovered.”

To guide me on the intricacies of identifying and treating heat stroke, I talked to Dr. Sean Langan, a research assistant at the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut. The Korey Stringer Institute specializes in research in preventing heat stroke deaths among athletes. 

Heat stroke symptoms include: 

Central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction:ConfusionAggression/agitation (Dr. Langan says you frequently see heat stroke victims bite and punch people)DizzinessFaintingSeizuresVery high body temperature (104 degrees F or higher)Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating). Sean notes that you rarely see dry skin in people with exertional heat stroke (caused by exercising or working in the heat). Those exerting themselves in the heat may still be sweaty, and you’ll need to be on the lookout for other symptoms, particularly CNS dysfunction.Throbbing headacheNausea/vomitingRapid breathingRapid pulse

According to Dr. Langan, the critical heat stroke symptom to be on the lookout for is CNS dysfunction:

You can have really fit people who have an internal body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of a marathon who are fine. Their body is adapted to having that high of an internal temp so they don’t have any CNS dysfunction and they cool down quickly after they finish their race. 

You can also have someone who has an internal body temperature of 103, but they’re experiencing CNS dysfunction. This person has heat stroke and needs to be treated. 

If you see someone who’s been in the heat who’s showing signs of CNS dysfunction, your best bet is to start treating that person for heat stroke. To confirm, take their temperature with a rectal thermometer (it will give you the most accurate reading)

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Podcast #678 Physical Benchmarks Every man should meet at every age

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As men, we all want to be physically capable. We want to be able to save our own life in two ways: in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in healthy, fit form for as long as possible, and in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you do possess that kind of lifesaving physical capability?

It’s time to do more than wonder, and really check in with yourself. My guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from age 8 to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John, and he’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness. Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet from childhood to old age, beginning with the assessments he gives to those who are 55 years old and older, which includes carrying their body weight, a long jump, and something called “the toilet test.” We then reach back to childhood, and Dan discusses the physical skills kids should become adept in, which were inspired by a turn-of-the-20th-century physical culturist who thought every individual ought to be able to save his own life, and which can be broken down into the categories of pursuit, escape, and attack. We end our conversation with the physical standards those in the 18-55 range should be able to meet, including how much a man should be able to bench press, squat, and deadlift, and the walking test that’s an excellent assessment of your cardiovascular conditioning.

My first and second interview with Dan“10 Things Every Lifter Should Be Able to Do”AoM Article: Don’t Just Lift Heavy, Carry HeavyAoM Article: Take the Simple Test That Can Predict Your MortalityAoM Article: The 10 Physical Skills Every Man Should MasterAoM Podcast #663: How to Achieve Physical AutonomyAoM Article: The History of Physical FitnessAoM Article: Every Man Should Be Able to Save His Own LifeAoM Article: 12 Balance Exercises You Can Do on a 2×4Shaker PlateAoM Podcast #508: Break Out of Your Cage and Stop Being a Human Zoo Animal

Connect With Dan John

DanJohnUniversity.com Dan on IGDan’s website

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Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. As men, we all want to be physically capable. We wanna be able to save our life in two ways. First in the more metaphorical sense of wanting to preserve it in a healthy fit form for as long as possible. And second, in the more literal sense of being able to make it through an emergency unscathed. How do you know if you possess that kind of life-saving physical capability?

Well, it’s time to do more than wonder and really check in with yourself, and my guest today has some helpful benchmarks that guys from ages eight to 80 can use to see if they’ve got an operative level of strength, mobility, and conditioning. His name is Dan John. He’s a strength coach and the author of numerous books and articles on health and fitness.

Today on the show, Dan walks us through the fitness standards the average male should be able to meet

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