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The Importance of Sleep

January 8, 2009

Ok, so duh. We all know sleep is important. I’m not writing to convince anyone of that. I’m writing because I recognized a connection last night between sleep and my eating habits. Rather, how lack of restful sleep affects my eating.

The last few nights I have not slept well at all. My cat has taken to scratching at the bathroom door and slamming it shut for no good reason – typically an hour after I lie down to go to sleep and right when I’m hitting that deep sleep zone. Talk about sleep torture. Then there’s been the wind storms here that cause the trees in the back to creak and snap and things to blow around wildly, sounding like people tapping on the windows, and causing the dogs to wake and bark protectively.


(The cause of my sleeplessness. Sbe looks so innocent. Don’t let those cute green eyes fool you.)

In my Weight Watchers meetings we often talk about recognizing what we eat and when, but I’m still at the stage of learning why I want to eat and recognizing the connection between eating and my emotions. Lately that translates to my emotions when I have not had enough sleep. When I don’t get enough sleep, like many of us, I get cranky. My fibromyalgia flares up and my brain gets foggy. can’t concentrate on anything, I don’t want to do anything, and I seriously don’t want to think about what I’m eating, writing it down, or counting POINTS. I just want to eat, sleep, or cry.

There’s an acronym I learned many years ago and it is HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. When any one or more of those emotions is present, I should stop and fix it.

So, I’ve been tired. I noticed last night that although I have a refrigerator full of healthy foods, cupboards full of ingredients to make a great low POINTS dinner, all I wanted to do was eat ice cream. I probably could have sat and eaten a whole box of Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Bars (my favorite at one point each), but I didn’t. Instead, I had a salad and a baked yam, and went to bed.

After a decent night’s sleep, I feel refreshed and better able to stay on plan with my eating. I also feel like I have more energy to actually get out and walk today (plus, the weather has calmed down.)

I’m not sure if this even makes any sense to anyone, but it was eye opening to me last night. I wanted to choose crap foods because I was tired. Not because I was hungry, bored, stressed, lonely, or any of those other emotions. Simple exhaustion, easily fixed.

Today I’ll be making a version of some sort of chicken stew or soup (sort of making it up) and if it turns out any good, I’ll post it here for you.

On the sewing front, what am I doing? Not much that I can post about. I have some gifts left to make that didn’t get done at Christmas, so I can’t post about those. I’ve also been dreaming of skirts… beautiful dark purple, almost black, boucle skirts, denim skirts. Yummy skirts. For moi.

Stay tuned, my bloggy friends!

  1. January 8, 2009 9:57 am

    The photo of your kitty looked like he was going to jump off the page, it’s that clear and beautiful. Maybe it’s the lighting in the photo, but he looks three dimensional.

    I totally get your “easily fixed” eating when exhausted. I eat when I’m tired and when I’m tired I don’t want to prepare anything, I just want to reach into a bag or jar and eat absent mindedly until I’m stuffed. It’s a problem and I have to be more aware of it. The other half of that problem, the cause of it really, is that when I’m exhausted I put off eating because I don’t want to prepare anything, and then I get to the point where I’m so famished I don’t care what I eat. It’s bad and I know it.

    Another eating-when-tired thing I sometimes do, and it’s really strange and kind of embarrassing, is fall asleep at night then wake up 10 minutes later STARVING. I’ll go out to the kitchen and just eat anything from cold macaroni and cheese to a handful of cookies, anything that’s readily available. I’ve had people suggest I’m not eating enough before bed and that could be true. I have a friend who eats in her sleep, she sleep walks in to the kitchen and eats all kinds of stuff, and only knows she’s done it by the mess she finds in the kitchen in the morning. She noticed she does it less often if she eats a big snack before bed. But she was completely asleep when she’d do it, and she’d come into work and say to me, “I did it again, I woke up this morning with chocolate all over the sheets and on my hands.”

  2. January 8, 2009 9:58 am

    Correction: like she was going to jump off the screen.

    I’m tired too. I got about three hours of sleep last night. πŸ˜›

  3. January 8, 2009 12:32 pm

    I am the same way when I’m tired. I head straight for the cheese-its!

    Speaking of chicken soup…. I made some delicious chicken broth overnight in my crockpot. I started with the carcass of the rotisserie chicken I used for dinner last night. I put it in the crockpot with one onion, one carrot, two stalks celery, all coarsely chopped. Covered with water and added salt and pepper. Turned the crockpot to low and cooked for 18-24 hours. Strain and let cool completely. Remove any fat from top and you’ll have delicious broth to start your soup.

    Works great with turkey carcass, too!

  4. run4change permalink
    January 9, 2009 6:20 am

    I am totally affected from my sleep. If I don’t get proper sleep I get depressed and say “screw it” not only to my food but to a lot of things. Great post.

  5. January 9, 2009 5:46 pm

    Sleep is SO important. I HATE when our cat or dog wakes us, or me anyway. My wife is a sounder sleeper than I. I sleep OK, but make sure to get to bed by 10. On weeknights I’m getting about 7 hours. I’m sure you’ve been up nights wondering how well I’m sleeping … πŸ™‚

    I agree with Wendy that your cat photo is great!

  6. January 11, 2009 10:03 am

    Wendy – I’m learning that everyone seems to be that way – when we are over-hungry, our brains malfunction somehow and sensible eating goes right out the door. Also, for me, I’ve learned that the signals that tell me when I’m full – if they ever worked to begin with – really don’t work when I’m tired or exhausted.

    Bonnie – I’d never thought of making my own chicken broth. I may try that sometime, however, I never really roast my own chicken. I usually just buy already boneless chicken breasts. Next time I buy a roasted chicken from the market, I’ll give it a try.

    Run4Change – Isn’t that true? It’s not just good eating habits we say screw it to, isn’t it.

    David – I get so cranky when my sweet, photogenic little kitty wakes me at night. I turn borderline psycho. Ya, true, I do. She is really a sweet kitty every other time. And I was wondering how you were sleeping. πŸ˜‰

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