Sleep Deprivation

This blog is about our healthy journey, which largely includes eating healthy. Most of my posts have been about food. This one isn’t. Our menu isn’t the only thing that has changed around here. While I do believe eating healthy is step one, you can’t stop there. Studies have shown that people who maintain a healthy weight, usually make healthy choices in all aspects of their life. Focusing on overall health, rather than just your waist line, will give you the weight loss you want and might even make it feel effortless. It did that for me. Don’t focus on the food-weight connection. It’s a smoke screen that will probably lead to failure.

I think the most important thing, besides eating well, is sleeping well. For me this was the thing that kicked me off that vicious yo-yo diet cycle and took me from “dieting” to healthier living. The light bulb went off when I realized that not getting enough sleep made me too tired to make healthy choices. I used to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I was a self professed “night owl.” London, my sweet little alarm clock, usually woke me around 7 a.m., which meant I was getting about 5 hours of sleep most nights. (Apparently I wasn’t alone.  I’ve seen a facebook likey thing called “I stay up too late and then hate myself in the morning.” They have over 385,000 likes!!)

At some point I realized that I was cheating myself. I traded a few hours of sleep for a few hazy, tired hours in the middle of the night. BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL! In addition to those extra hours in the middle night, I also received, at no additional cost, one full cranky and unproductive day filled with guilt, which lead to feeling sorry for myself, all for one low price of just a few hours of sleep. I’d rationalize not eating or worse yet, eating prepared processed junk food to save time. It’s part of the cycle and studies have shown that sleep deprivation may lead to weight gain (especially in women). Here’s the cycle. You eat a lot of junk. You need more sleep. You don’t get enough sleep. You eat more junk.

Here are some side effects of sleep deprivation (from Wikipedia) :

So what is considered a good nights sleep? Everyone’s probably heard that we need 8 hours. But then some study showed that 8 is too many and 7 is the perfect number…? In reality the amount of sleep a person needs varies. There is no “perfect number.” Figuring out yours isn’t that difficult. I started out with 8 hours and then tried 7. Subtracting that hour made one noticeable difference. It was easier to get out of bed in the morning. I didn’t have that strong urge to hit snooze, roll over and go back to sleep. I also began to notice that I was naturally waking up just minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Any day that doesn’t start out with that atrocious “BEEP… BEEP… BEEP…” is already a good day in my book.

The only problem with all this, is that I didn’t want to give up those peaceful evening hours. The only sound as beautiful as a house filled with the joy and laughter of happy children, is a quiet house filled with the silence of happily sleeping children. So, I swapped those 3 to 5 unproductive hours at night for 1 or 2 really good ones in the morning. What a difference! I can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years! It’s the same quiet, peaceful house, but now with a quiet, peaceful me. Serenity.

Here are some benefits of good night’s rest (from About.com):

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About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

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