I am a big proponent of sleep. As a teenage I think my father once told me that sleeping was not a potential occupation, which was too bad because it was one of the things I did really well. Perhaps that was because I went to boarding school so the few weekends I would get to come home were spent catching up on sleep. Sleeping in rooms with other people who are not my husband are just never as good for me as sleeping in rooms alone. Really sleeping in houses alone are really the best, but then I might never get up.
For anyone who is trying to drop a pound or two or thirty sleep is a key element in weight loss. If you are sleeping you are not eating so just cutting down on waking hours reduces your opportunity to eat. Being well rested helps me resist naughty foods. Exhaustion should be met with rest not sugar. But if you are dog tired in the middle of the day a nap is sometimes impossible and with your defenses down you know what happens.
I come from people who were not necessarily professional sleepers. My mother and sister both suffered from sleep difficulties, which is something I never really appreciated until now. This past week I have only been sleeping through the night every other night.
Wednesday night I was up at two in the morning for a couple of hours. Not wanting to wake any of the others in the house I lay silently in bed, being totally unproductive. There might have been something in the air, or maybe the neighborhood because at the gym the next morning while suffering my trainers diabolical torture I complained about my night and suddenly ever other client in the gym spoke up saying they too were awake at two, three and four in the morning. Could there have been some cosmic waves that forced us all up when we clearly needed to be a sleep?
The night after I slept fine, exhaustion will do that to me, but then again last night I was up at 12:30. That episode lasted only thirty minutes but then I was back up again at three and could not fall back to sleep until 5:30. What the! Sure it’s Saturday, but I have a big day and a big night. This means I am going to have to work extra hard to resist tempting food in tempting situations and try and be nice when I clearly have a hard time being nice when I have a good night’s sleep. I think I need to start the cosmic wave sleep interruption rumor as my excuse for crankiness.
I am normally a morning person, but without the need to get up to drive Carter to school I end up staying up later and later in the summer. These last few days of vacation are my waning chance to sleep late, but somehow I keep waking up earlier and earlier. “Why, why,” I cry to myself as I look at the clock on the DVR. No matter how hard I try to go back to sleep this past week I have been unable to do so, so I just go ahead and get up.
There is nothing wrong with getting up early and being productive. It is one reason I like the morning. Time to do things before the rest of the world feels like they can intrude on your space. I don’t really like staying up late because that time is wasted on me. What I need most is sleep. If I have eight good hours of sleep I am at my best during the waking hours. If I only get six forget about it.
This past week has been a six-hour night every night. The two places I notice it affecting me most is my food choices and my short fuse. If I get the right amount of sleep I have a 90% chance of eating good for me foods in smaller portions. Every minute under that optimal time increases the likelihood I will have a bite here and a lick there of something diet busting. It starts with slightly larger portions of my regular food but then with enough sleep deprivation it can escalate into eating a whole blueberry muffin or lasagna for dinner, like last night.
This morning was the same story. After going to bed at midnight I woke up at six twenty. I got on the scale to find out the lasagna from last night was still with me. I knew that I needed to get control, which had to start with eating right and getting enough sleep. The best part about sleep, outside of feeling better when you wake up, is that you can’t eat when you are sleeping.
Since sleeping at night has not been working I took a nap today. It is the perfect day for a nap, cold and rainy. Now I have gotten back the hour and a half I should have had last night. I have planned out my dinner of a small bit of leftover smoked pork chop and lots of broccoli and a peach with some milk for dessert. I am staying in, away from people who cause my extroverted personality to want to stay up. I figure I will wake up early tomorrow, which I just can’t help, but at least I am going to do everything possible to get eight hours of sleep and see if it can help me stay on the healthy eating track. Oh yeah, that should also help my short fuse so that my family will be happier too.
This is no news – the more and better quality sleep you get the better you are at either losing weight or maintaining your healthy weight. You don’t have to believe me, there are tons of medical articles on the subject.
I am a good sleeper. I don’t take this for granted. I come from a family full of bad sleepers and I am also married to one.
As a child my youngest sister Janet had the nickname inside our family of “Mutt.” She earned this unattractive name not because she was not cute, but because of her nightly sleeping ritual.
Long after everyone in the house had gone to sleep, Janet would drag her red Snoopy sleeping bag from her bed and walk the very long distance from her room down the hall, up the stairs through both the big and the little living rooms and into my parents bedroom. Silently she would curl up on the sleeping bag at the foot of my parent’s bed, much like a trusted family dog, thus the “Mutt” moniker.
In the night my parent’s bedspread usually fell to the floor covering my sister completely. My mother was already not sleeping well and my father’s snoring did not help.
My mother’s best sleep came after 4:30 when my father would get up to make his long commute to New York City. As he would try to silently leave their room he would invariably kick Janet at the foot of the bed, never learning that she was going to be there for many years.
My husband is a broken sleeper too. He starts in one bed and sleeps for about four hours then wakes up and spends about two or three hours awake and is sometimes able to fall back to sleep, usually in a different place in the house.
I am proof that just being a good sleeper will not make you thin. Russ, as a bad sleeper is thin so it is not making him fat. I think it helps that he does not eat when he is awake in the middle of the night. But if you are sleeping you can’t be eating. And being tired lowers your defenses against boredom or binge eating.
If you are hungry late at night, go to sleep rather than eat. It will keep you from eating that night and if you got a good night’s rest it might keep you from over eating the next day.