Thursday, January 16, 2014

Team S.J.G.R. Thursday Huddle: Don't Sleep on Sleep.

So check it--I have a question for you guys:

Which of the following two statements is true about you:

  1. I LIVE to sleep.
  2. I SLEEP to live.

Well? Which camp are you in? Okay, okay. That might sound a little bit extreme. So seriously--how do you feel about sleep? If left alone with no one to bother you could you sleep until after lunchtime? Or under no circumstances can you sleep past 8:30 a.m.?

We talk so much about food relationships in these huddles. But you know? Today I am going to step on my own toes and discuss one of the areas where I personally struggle: Sleep. And why is it relevant? Because getting adequate sleep is directly tied to weight and appetite.


Now wait. Let me be clear about something--I have no trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Nope, no insomnia here. I'm not troubled by wretched nightmares or fretfulness either. My bladder manages to get me through the night so even that isn't an issue.  My problem? Just the act of turning off the light and going to bed. It's as simple as that.

I sleep to live. No question about it. No matter how late I stay up, I am very likely to rise early. Even if I wake up and simply sit on my couch with my iPad or a book--once the sun comes peeking into our window, I start stirring. Which is a good thing, right? I mean, wouldn't you say that not being a sleep monger is something that should make a person productive as an adult? Two thumbs up, right?

Well, not so fast. The thing about me is this: I will trade sleep for time to do what I want to do. And for me, those are simple things. Things like writing in the morning. Or watching some guilty pleasure show on NetFlix. Or reading a book or blog that interests me. I will stay up or wake up to have this time. No matter what.

Let me be more clear. When I get home in the evenings, my time is dedicated to my children and my home. It's homework and dinner and baths and cleaning up and checking backpacks and packing lunches and filling dishwashers and emptying dishwashers and anything else you can think of. And when all of that is over, it's usually late. Like at least 1l p.m. So me? I find myself starting my "me time" then.

But I don't stop there. I set my alarm to wake up a minimum of thirty minutes before anyone else. Which means that in my house that has to be no later than 6 a.m. Which would be no big deal if I went to bed at 10 the night before. But the problem is that I don't.

I didn't know how abysmal my sleep habits were until I got a Fitbit One with the sleep tracking mechanism on it. Geeze Louise, y'all. I was averaging a solid five hours, five and a half tops. Not even kidding. The only bright side is that I don't wake up too much. Once I'm down, it's a technical knock out.

Here's the thing--most people who miss some sleep feel like zombies the next day. Well me? I don't. I have no trouble ever getting up. I'm chipper and ready to rumble. Even when I'm on fumes. And don't judge me, y'all. I know it's not good.

But let me tell you how much.

So here's the science lesson part of why not sleeping can add junk to your metaphorical trunk. There's these two hormones in the body called LEPTIN and GHRELIN. Leptin's job is to suppress your appetite. Ghrelin is responsible for increasing your appetite. And guess what? People who get at least 8 hours of sleep -- or forget it, just adequate sleep-- their leptin is higher and their ghrelin is lower. Oh, and the studies where they sleep deprived folks to see what would happen? Uhh yeah. You bet that the leptin plummeted and the ghrelin was having a party.


So let's break it down further. When you don't sleep you want to EAT MORE. This is why you come home late sometimes and ravage the pantry. This is why diners that stay open 24 hours make a ton of money off of late night patrons ordering a short stack of pancakes and extra crispy bacon. This is why, in a study of women that were instructed to make not one single lifestyle change other than sleeping 7 and a half hours or more per night for a period of six weeks, they all LOST WEIGHT.

Oh, and did I mention? Those who sleep less have higher body fat content.

Now all of this news sucks for me. Because I need more hours than the waking time offers. That is, if I want some me time. And perhaps figuring out how to still get that and sleep enough is a whole separate blog post in itself. But my point is this:

Don't sleep on sleep.

And for those who don't know the slang term "don't sleep" it means don't underestimate the importance of something. You with me? Good.

Looking for an easy way to shave off some pounds? Take your ass to bed. For at least 7 1/2 to 8 hours.

And let me quickly say that this does not mean that sleeping on the weekends until noon is cool either. There is certainly a point where too much sleep makes you less productive in your life period. And that, too, is a whole separate blog post and beyond the scope of this. This is more of a message to you night owls like me who pop right up in the mornings. It's to those who stay up late and don't pop up but who guzzle coffee to stay alive. Whichever camp you fall in, the data is plain as day. Sleep is something that we shouldn't sleep on.

Happy Thursday.


  1. Knock-knock.
    Who's there?
    *game over*

    Once the beams of daylight come pouring in through the windows, there is no sleep left in me regardless of what time I went to bed.

  2. May I please say this? If you are spending the whole night snoring, snorting and gasping you are doing more than just keeping your partner from getting their 7-8 hours. You are not sleeping and you are not breathing. The snoring and snorting are caused by your throat closing and causing the cells in your brain and heart to be deprived of oxygen. In response your brain sends out an endorphin that wakes you up slightly so that you regain muscle tone in your throat and gasp. That endorphin also raises your blood pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea causes a whole cascade of really bad things to go on in your body that lead to heart disease and sudden cardiac death. So let me make this shit real for you. Any excuse you can come up with to not get a sleep study will not make the damage go away. If you snore, snort and gasp for air when you sleep you need to take care of it and the sooner the better.

    I'll get off my soapbox now...sorry.

  3. Yeah, need to work on this one. I'm SO not a morning person, but, can stay up ALL night! Its like my body says, "time for your 2nd wind!" Ah well, work in progress. Thanks for the reminder! :-)

  4. Generally, I turn into a gremlin if I am not all the way in the bed no later than 9 pm. I try to hit the bed by 8:30 but sometimes that doesn't work. Even on weekends! I am also up by 5:30 no matter what.....This is fine by me but if I have plans to go out and celebrate with friends I get text messages like: "Ashara, we going out tonight...TAKE A NAP NOW!" LOL I just can't help it I call it "The Transformation". I get bloodshot eyes and very very grumpy. So much so that I have been dubbed "Shut the Party down" LOL

  5. I can't even fathom a world where I sleep 7.5 to 8 hours a night!!! I need to work on that!

  6. well, if this is all true then I should weigh 100 pounds!! I hardly ever sleep past 5 am and I look forward to going to bed around nine for a bit...and then I am out for the night. My dad used to say "If I was rich I would have clean sheets every night" and I feel the same way....there is NOTHING better than climbing into a freshly made bed at night!

  7. I want to sleep more, I truly do. I either can't fall asleep or I wake up around 2 or 3 and am up until it is time for me to get ready for work. My doctor has offered prescriptions to help me but the warnings frighten me. I want to be fully alert if anything ever happens to my family at night (it always seem to happen that way). I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. *sigh*

  8. I made a big change about a year ago to my sleep habits. I decided that #1 I wanted to make a commitment to getting up early to practice yoga, and #2 I needed to go to bed early enough to make it happen. You see, I coach in the mornings and need to leave the house at 5:15am. That means, I need to go to bed at 8:30am to get up at 3:45am to fulfill my commitment. It was tough to swallow, but I'm so glad I made this shift. It's making a big difference in how I approach and spend my day. Thanks for your info about the hormones!

  9. Damn. Seriously, you just wrote my story. I am late to bed, early to rise. I am chronically sleep deprived and I know it, but if we're being real in our huddle, I doubt I change it soon. I have a weird aversion to going to bed.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

Related Posts with Thumbnails