Community & Culture

Are You Really as Tall (or Short) as You Think You Are?

In episode five of the Mystery Show podcast, Starlee Kine solves a case involving actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s real height. And your real height, I found out, might not be as clear-cut as you think (especially when sleep is involved).

A friend of Investigator Kine’s watched the movie Source Code and noticed Jake Gyllenhaal looked taller in some scenes than in others. To find out more, he visited a website dedicated to celebrity heights to find out, "How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal?” He could not find a conclusive answer. In fact, he discovered a raging online debate filled with eye-witness accounts, one-off encounters, and pure speculation. To make matters worse, the people on the forums who’d actually met Jake all seemed to be women who were “wearing heels that day” and couldn’t get a true sense of his height.

While scouring forums and backtracking from dead ends, Investigator Kine and her client came across a post that mentioned Gyllenhaal’s max morning height. Apparently you’re taller in the morning and throughout the day as gravity, slumping shoulders and caffeine crash unfolds you get shorter. (Sleep really is the ultimate source of regeneration.) With the Internet abuzz over Gyllenhaal’s height, the idea of max morning height changed everything. Is the actor’s height constantly changing?

As I listened to the podcast, I began to wonder – how tall am I? On television Jake Gyllenhaal once said, “I am happily six feet tall.” I can relate. I too am happily six feet tall. But what if before 7 a.m. I’m actually six-one? Or what if my max morning height is six-four? I should be playing early morning pick-up basketball games and dominating. If I were taller in the morning, how would this information change my life? In all my years I’d never sidled up to the door jam, pencil and yardstick in hand, before at least 4 p.m. when after-school snacks and “Dukes of Hazard” were over.

How tall are you? It’s a question fourth graders ask each other on the playground. Adults don’t often talk about height. We tend to have a static figure in mind that nobody except our doctors cares about (unless you’re exceptionally tall – then people think they have free access to your medical records). But my discovery of max morning height brought another question to mind: what else is different about our bodies in the morning? To find out, I turned to Papa Google, the all-powerful provider of knowledge and cat videos.

I searched, “how is your body different in the morning versus the rest of the day?” The top result was an article titled, “ Why Most Olympic Records Are Broken in the Afternoon: Your Body’s Best Time for Everything.” Oh no, the afternoon? What about max morning height and my plan to dominate pick-up basketball? I soon learned muscle strength peaks 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. when your body temperature is higher, which may act as a natural warm-up. Also, around 5 p.m. your lungs function 17.6% more efficiently. The mornings are still good as far as regular lung function is concerned, but not for athletic pursuits.

Another result was an article from asking, “How Much Can Weight Fluctuate from Morning to Night?” It said your bodyweight fluctuates up to four pounds during the day and you are lighter in the morning. Then the article got gross and reminded me why it’s important to have a mattress protector: “Up to 80 percent of nighttime weight loss is from water, not including urine or feces.”

The majority of the remaining search results disputed the best time of day to exercise, but nothing mentioned max morning height or other early morning phenomena. So, what did I learn from all this? In summary, I discovered Jake Gyllenhaal’s exact height and I decided if you’re gathering metrics for behavior and performance, do data collection during a maximized state –measure height and weight in the morning, bench press and long jump in the afternoon.

Before I leave you, how about one last mystery? I discovered my max morning height. It’s surprisingly close to Jake Gyllenhaal’s. How close, you ask? Tweet to me @MarkKinsley or leave a comment below and I’ll reveal the final piece of the puzzle.

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